I have been thinking lately …
… about the Holy Spirit.
This Sunday we as the church will celebrate Pentecost. According to Acts 2, on Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples like tongues of fire and inspired them to speak in different languages, so that the crowds that had gathered in Jerusalem each heard the good news of Jesus in their own language.
For many of us, Pentecost is the day that we dust off the Holy Spirit and remind ourselves that the Spirit is the third part of the Trinity. Perhaps we will remind ourselves of the promise that was made at our baptism: “You have been marked by the cross of Christ and sealed with God’s Holy Spirit forever.” But after this Sunday we will pack the Spirit away and forget about the Spirit’s presence until another baptism happens or Pentecost rolls around once again.
Yet, I wonder if we ought to pay more attention to our Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters, who see in Pentecost (and throughout the book of Acts) the promise that the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit are ours right now. For I do not believe that the working of the Holy Spirit ended with the disciples. Rather, I firmly believe that we are called to live out of the gifts that the Spirit empowers within each of us.
I wonder if we ought to learn from Spirit-filled followers of Jesus that we are called to a faith that is not simply a matter of the head but also a matter of the heart. Yes, I believe that faith is about more than emotions, but I also believe that faith includes my emotions. And perhaps a little emotion in my faith would be a good thing.
And the story of Pentecost provides us a place to begin.
On Pentecost, the Spirit comes upon the believers like tongues of fire. So, we open ourselves to the presence of God that ignites passion within our lives. We pay attention to what sets us on fire, what excites us, what we are passionate about, and we realize that these are God-inspired, Spirit-ignited desires and talents and gifts within us.
On Pentecost, the Spirit drove the disciples out to speak out the message of Jesus to a people not like them. So, we are called to not stay within the church. We are called to move out with the good news of God’s love in Jesus. We are called to encounter people not like us and show and proclaim God’s love. Perhaps that is what this pandemic has helped show us. The church was never about being in the building. Church happens when we are inspired by the Spirit to be the people of God in our daily lives.
On Pentecost, Peter declared that all that had happened occurred, because “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” (Acts 2:17) Yet, Peter did not simply mean that the end of time had come. Rather, Peter declares that the Spirit’s outpouring shows the completion and fulfillment of time. When we live in the unifying power of the Spirit, when we see the working of the Spirit in all people, no matter their age, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, orientation, or religion, then we are seeing the completion of God’s work on this earth.
I love how Tony Evans expresses how God’s Spirit longs to move powerfully within our lives: “when the fire of the Holy Spirit is ignited in a believer’s life, the Spirit transforms the soul (personality), and the transformed soul changes the behavior of the body. The new life on the inside becomes the dominant expression of the visible life on the outside.”
Do you want to experience a new and transformed life? God’s Spirit is already at work in doing so. Pentecost promises this. May we have the eyes and hearts and lives to realize this.